A RETIRED civil engineer says it is a miracle he is alive after his tractor crushed him against a wall in a remote area of North Craven.

George Houghton, 84, now a hobby farmer with a herd of pedigree Limousins which his late wife started, was taking some bales of hay from his home at Oak Tree Farm, Bentham, to feed cattle at Israel Farm, Eldroth, on February 11.

And he has now pledged £10,000 to Yorkshire Air Ambulance and £1,000 each to the two fire stations which attended him after his ankle and ribs were smashed when his tractor moved.

Mr Houghton explained: “I was taking bales to the other farm and approached a gateway. I approached very slowly and got off. Somehow the tractor moved forward, ran over my right leg and pinned me against a gate post.

“I could hardly breathe and thought that was the end of me. Fortunately I carried a mobile phone. It was in my top pocket and I managed to get two fingers on it and get it out. I rang 999 and the next thing I remember is two helicopters, the police and two fire engines arriving.

“They can’t have been long, about half a hour, but it was a bitterly cold day.

“One of the helicopters had a doctor on board. He must have given me something strong because I was in no pain. Just very cold.

“I ended up needing emergency surgery on my crushed ankle at the Royal Preston Hospital and was there 11 days.

“I can’t thank everyone enough. The hospital and its staff were tremendous. The surgeon who saw to me was tremendous. Everything was spotless. I can’t praise everyone enough.

“I had to go back down to surgery to have the pins out and for a graft and the surgeon asked if I wanted to watch. I said yes and he injected me in my spine and I watched them. I think the surgeon was quite surprised,” said Mr Houghton.

Mr Houghton’s two sons who live in Ireland were told of the accident. His daughter, Maxine, is helping him look after the stock while he recuperates.

“I’m back home now and I have nurses come each day to check on me. I have been looked after so well. Everything was spot-on. The helicopter staff saved my life and I am very grateful. I can’t thank everyone enough, that’s why I want to make a donation to them.”

Mr Houghton said he had sent chocolates for the nurses and wine for the surgeon and pledged the cash to fire and the air ambulance.

“I really don’t know how I survived. The front wheel of the tractor had pinned me against the post and broken some of my ribs. Even now I struggle to breathe over a month after.

“I have to go back in shortly for a check up, probably to check it is all healing well.

“I hope they have saved my leg and I can walk again. They said my ankle was in bits but the surgeon told me he would save the leg.”

A spokesman for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance confirmed two helicopters were sent out, one from RAF Topcliffe, near Thirsk, and another with a doctor on board from Wakefield.

Fire engines were sent out from Bentham and Kirkby Lonsdale to stabilise the accident scene and stop the wall from falling.

The call-out is due to be screened on TV on Helicopter ER during an edition later in the year.